Trainee reporter wins tribunal profit payout

Colvile: denied profit-related pay

A trainee reporter denied money from a profit-share scheme has taken her former bosses to an employment tribunal and won.

Zoe Colvile was working for the Wokingham Times, part of Guardian Media Group, when the dispute took place.

She joined the title in August 2002 and was due to receive a payout from the profit-related pay scheme on 15 July, 2003.

However, she gave her one month’s notice on 1 July and the company told her that, as she was designated a “leaver”, she was no longer eligible for the payout.

When the company refused to back down, Colvile decided to take it to an employment tribunal to obtain the disputed money – which totalled £686.16.

She said: “I couldn’t see their argument.

They wouldn’t say where it was written down that I didn’t qualify for the money. I went to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau about it and they agreed with me – so I filled out the relevant forms and sent them off to the employment tribunal in Reading.”

In its submission to the tribunal, Surrey & Berkshire Newspapers argued the profit share was discretionary and non-contractual. And it said that according to the company rules, “leavers” were not eligible.

The group’s solicitor said: “The respondents deny that they were obliged to operate the scheme at all.”

The hearing lasted just 10 minutes and the tribunal came down in favour of Colvile, who represented herself.

She said: “They looked at the paragraph in question and decided the company was stretching the meaning of the word leaver. I was absolutely over the moon.”

Colvile now works for a charity.

Surrey & Berkshire Newspapers editorial director Andy Murrill said: “Zoe Colvile was a good reporter for us and I was sorry to see her leave. When she resigned there was a disagreement over whether she qualified under the rules for our discretionary profitrelated pay scheme. We went on to offer Zoe the payment minus tax and national insurance, in common with all other staff.

“We wish Zoe all the very best in her career.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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